Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy; The Story of Little Women and Why It Still Matters by Anne Boyd Rioux Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy; The Story of Little Women and Why It Still Matters by Anne Boyd Rioux; W.W. Norton, 2018. 273 pages; $16.95 (paperback); reading level: adult. Rioux spends two thirds of her book on background material (a biographical sketch of Alcott and her family, the reception and popularity of Little Women through the… [Read More]

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott; Signet Classic, 2012 (originally published in 1828 and 1829). 507 pages; $5.95 (paperback); reading level: high school/adult. I hadn’t read this book as a child and, with the 150th anniversary of its publication upon us and a new movie adaptation due out, I thought it might be time. It… [Read More]

Improvement by Joan Silber Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

Improvement by Joan Silber; Counterpoint, 2017. 227 pages; $26.00 (hardcover); reading level: adult. Part I of this three-part novel dangles the prospect that this will be an intriguing but straightforward story. It’s 2012 and Reyna, living in Brooklyn and the single mother of a four-year-old, narrates. We meet Aunt Kiki, Reyna’s boyfriend Boyd and, after… [Read More]

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders; Random House, 2017. 343 pages; $17.00 (paperback); reading level: adult. Set in February of 1862, in a very real cemetery where the very real body of Willie Lincoln has just been placed in a borrowed crypt by his bereaved father, the first character we meet is a very… [Read More]

The Mayor of Mogadishu by Andrew Harding Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

The Mayor of Mogadishu; A Story of Chaos and Redemption in the Ruins of Somalia by Andrew Harding; St. Martin’s Press, 2016.  278 pages; $26.99 (hardcover); reading level: adult. As Harding admits in his introduction, this is both a biography of Mohamud “Tarzan” Nur (mayor of Mogadishu, Somalia from 2010 to 2014) and a recounting… [Read More]

The Professor and the Mad Man by Simon Winchester Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

The Professor and the Madman; A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary by Simon Winchester; HarperCollins, 1999.  242 pages; $15.99 (paperback); reading level:  adult. In 1634, the French established the Académie Française to catalogue, and keep a watchful eye on, their language.  It wasn’t until 1857 that Richard Chenevix… [Read More]

Cyrus Field’s Big Dream; The Daring Effort to Lay the First Transatlantic Telegraph Cable by Mary Morton Cowan Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

Cyrus Field’s Big Dream; The Daring Effort to Lay the First Transatlantic Telegraph Cable by Mary Morton Cowan; Calkins Creek, 2018. 224 pages; $19.95 (hardcover); reading level: grades 4-12. Cyrus Field didn’t know the first thing about telegraphs when he retired from running a successful paper mill in 1853. But when his “big dream” took hold,… [Read More]

The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu by Joshua Hammer Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu; and Their Race to Save the World’s Most Precious Manuscripts by Joshua Hammer; Simon & Schuster, 2016.  279 pages (hardcover); reading level: adult. Hammer has to lay a lot of groundwork before he gets to the “bad-ass” rescue promised in the title.  He puts events a relatively well-informed reader might… [Read More]

They May Not Mean To, But They Do by Cathleen Schine Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

They May Not Mean To, But They Do by Cathleen Schine. Sarah Crichton Books/Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2016. 290 pages; $26.00 (hardcover); reading level: adult. Only a seasoned writer could have pulled this one off: As I read Schine’s clear-eyed novel, I laughed and cried at the same time. I cried with the protagonist, eighty-six-year-old… [Read More]

Bellevue by David Oshinsky Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

Bellevue; Three Centuries of Medicine and Mayhem at America’s Most Storied Hospital by David Oshinsky; Doubleday, 2016. 387 pages; $30.00 (hardcover); reading level: adult. As the subtitle promises, this history of New York City’s oldest public hospital is far from dry. Following Bellevue from its beginnings as an almshouse established in the early 1700s to… [Read More]